bp Renegades and its youth band to participate in US cultural exchange programme

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bp Renegades and its youth band to participate in US cultural exchange programme

Mere weeks after being crowned joint National Panorama champions, bp Renegades and its youth band, which is also the Junior Panorama winners, will participate in a cultural exchange programme in the US that is focused on using music to develop and steer at-risk youth away from violence and juvenile delinquency.

The band’s exclusive agent in the US and Canada, CariBeat, recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy for a “first-ever” Steelpan Cultural Exchange and Youth Development Programme, a media release said.

Bp Renegades of Charlotte Street, Port of Spain, tied with Massy All Stars steelband of Duke Street, Port of Spain, for the 2024 Pan Trinbago National Panorama title. It was a record 13th time that bp Renegades won the title. The band’s Youth Steel Orchestra is the National 21 and Under Junior Panorama champions.

CariBeat and Meridian which are both based in the Washington, DC metro area, will work together on a programme involving the pannists which is geared to directly address the serious problems of juvenile delinquency which are “threatening the economic growth, safety and security, and overall quality of life in major metropolises throughout the United States,” the release said.

During the programme American participants will learn about the history of pan and how to play the instrument, while those from Trinidad and Tobago will be enlightened on American music genres including, jazz, rap, and hip-hop.

In joint sessions participants will be schooled in principles and practices of civility, integrity, critical thinking, ethics, discipline, teamwork, community and volunteerism. They will also get training on professional deportment, communication skills, manners, dining protocols, and other forms of social etiquette, the release said.

The Steelpan Cultural Exchange and Youth Development Program will be officially launched in June, during Caribbean American Heritage Month in the US, with an exchange involving members of both bp Renegades’ senior and youth pansides along with middle and high school students from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Boston, the release said.

CariBeat’s president Luis V McSween said the programme is being undertaken based on results attained through the use of music.

“This steelpan cultural exchange and youth development programme comes out of the real-life results that CariBeat and bp Renegades have seen from the engagement of youth in the discipline of steelpan. What we know for sure is that the problem of juvenile delinquency can only be solved through a multi-faceted approach that leverages something new and exciting that our youth enjoy – music – to teach them how to become productive members of their communities,” McSween said in the release.

“Our youth will not pick up positive behaviours through osmosis. We have to teach them, engage them, and demonstrate these behaviours to them in fun and engaging ways.”

He said CariBeat was grateful for the support of the TT embassy in Washington, DC, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the private and public sector partners, “who have already expressed their excitement about being a part of this phenomenal project. ”

Bp Renegades president Colin Greaves said the band was honoured to be the first steel orchestra to participate in the youth development project.

“The timing is perfect for this Steelpan Youth Exchange and Professional Development Program, and we are thrilled that discussions that began in 2023, as part of our 75th Anniversary Tour to DC, have borne fruit,” Greaves said. “This is the icing on the cake of our Panorama victory and we are delighted that our agent for the US and Canada, CariBeat, is leading the charge.”

About CariBeat: Founded by Trinidadians Luis and Monique McSween in 2008, CariBeat is a Caribbean lifestyle company in the US with a mission of delivering extraordinary Caribbean-style events, cultural experiences, cuisine, apparel, and decor to every corner of the US, the release said.

Meridian Center: The Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy employs arts and culture as a tool of diplomacy and cross-cultural understanding. The centre collaborates with embassies, governments and the private sector to curate cultural diplomacy exhibitions, exchanges and programmes in Washington, DC and worldwide. Meridian’s programmes have reached millions in more than 260 cities in 60 countries worldwide, the release said.